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The opening of this Chapter is most blessed indeed, and carries with it evident tokens of grace. The other parts are somewhat like the preceding Chapters, the Lord's expostulations with his people.
Every word in this verse is important and interesting, and I beg the Reader to ponder well the golden sayings contained in it. Some have thought, that what is here said is the immediate result of what the Lord had said in the last verse of the preceding chapter, and ought not to have been separated from it. And indeed I wish the Reader to look back to that verse, and read it with this. For from whence should such a resolution or desire as is here expressed come, but from the Lord's grace in the heart? How blessed is it to read this, and especially after what we have gone through in the preceding Chapters of God's charge against his people, for their revolting from him! And observe, it is not the resolution of one person, and that one going to the Lord alone; but it seems to be a general invitation, Come, let us return unto the Lord. And I pray the Reader to observe with me, how pure the gospel is here set forth, in the reasons assigned for the sinner's return: because He who hath torn can only heal. The Holy Ghost that convinceth of sin, can be the only comforter, to convince of the all-sufficiency of Christ's righteousness, to justify and save. So said also the gospel Prophet. Isaiah 9:13 ; John 16:7-11 . Precious Jesus! give thy people thus to know thee, and it will be indeed blessed. Deuteronomy 32:39 .
Here is an abundance of most blessed things contained in this verse. Certainly the Prophet had an eye to Christ in his resurrection, as the first fruits of them that sleep. He had an eye also to the spiritual resurrection of every sinner that is made to hear the voice of the Son of God and live. John 5:25 . And no doubt there is an eye also to the future resurrection of the body, from the same cause, and by the same power. Revelation 20:6 . Some have thought that there is a particular reference to the second coming of Christ in the Millennium, when the Jews restoration will take place. I only mention it; but by no means, give an opinion upon it. Certainly the verse is most blessed, and the promise most blessed. Every true follower and lover of the Lord Jesus, will put his hearty Amen to it.
I beg the Reader at the very entrance upon this verse, to observe with me, that the little word if is in Italics; consequently hath no right to be there, and certainly ought not to be there, if the sense be injured by it, or lessened, or destroyed. And that it doth all this is very evident. For if it be left out the doctrine is plain and clear. Then shall we know; we shall follow on to know the Lord. For as the first knowledge of the Lord is wholly from his grace, and before that grace is given no one ever can know the Lord; so all the after knowledge is from the same divine teaching, and not deriving an atom from human study, or human attainments. Matthew 11:27 . And I beg the Reader once for all to remark, that this, and similar ifs of scripture are never put in, as forming any cause or reason for such grace being shown, for the doctrine itself is absolute. Then shalt we know, saith the Prophet: when? even when the Lord hath raised up the poor sinner, and caused him to live in his sight. There is a similar passage, Hebrews 3:14 . For we are made partakers (saith the Apostle) of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. Here observe, the Holy Ghost is giving testimony of a present mercy, not speaking of one in future. He saith, we are made partakers of Christ. How was this wrought? Surely by grace. Hence therefore our holding fast the beginning of our confidence cannot be the cause, or condition of being made; for that hath been already done, and is really and actually enjoyed. It is only spoken of therefore as our truly feeling it, and knowing it, when by the lively actings of faith, we hold fast and live upon it. But what a whole, volume of the richest things is said of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the latter part of this verse. His goings forth have been prepared as the morning. And was it not so, when in the morning of eternity he came up at the call Jehovah, prepared in the everlasting council of peace for the redemption of his people? Was it not so, when in the day dawn, and day-star, of the early revelations in time, he came forth, as the sum and substance of every type, every shadow of the law; every promise, every intimation in the gospel? And is he not so now, and hath been in all ages of his Church, to all, and everyone of his redeemed, as prepared for them in the sweetest of all mornings, after the dark night of a sinful, fallen, ruined state, which must have ended in the everlasting blackness of despair, had not Jesus arisen as the sum of righteousness, with healing in his wings? And how doth he come to his people, when visiting them under their original dry and barren state of their wilderness nature, at the first, and in all the after manifestations of his grace? Is it not as the rain; both the latter and the former? Every grace of Jesus is indeed as the rain and dew of heaven; that is free, unmerited, unlooked for, and unsought. It tarrieth not for man, neither waiteth for the sons of men. Micah 5:7 . How blessedly Jesus is spoken of under this figure. Psalms 72:6 . He shall come down as the rain upon the mown grass: refreshing the earth when weary, and scorched, and dry. And I beg the Reader to observe the great beauty of the Prophet's expression, in putting the latter rain before the former, in allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ. For in Judea, there were generally two seasons of refreshing rains; the one in Autumn, the other in the spring. Now at the close of the Autumnal season the seed was then sown; this was what was called the latter rain, though in reality the first after seed time, therefore this is first spoken of, with an eye to Christ, in watering the souls of his people, when he hath sown the spiritual seed of his grace in their hearts. And the former season of the year Jesus refresheth them, in the time of the harvest, when he brings his redeemed home to his heavenly garner. Proverbs 16:15 .
If the Reader recollects what I humbly observed in my Commentary on Hosea 4:17 and compares it with this verse, perhaps he may be led to think as I do. Certain it is, we shall think alike, if God the Holy Ghost be the teacher of both. But when I read the gracious, the tender expressions of the Lord, as in this verse, over both Ephraim and Judah, I cannot conceive that the sentence, let Ephraim alone, implies the giving up Ephraim to a judicial blindness, and irrecoverable apostacy. Reader! pause over the sweet and gracious expressions of the Lord! Was God at a loss what to do? Oh! no. But we are to accept the words as the melting and yearning compassion of the Lord over the sorrowful state of sin in his people. See Jeremiah 31:20 ; Hosea 11:8 ; Luke 19:41-42 . The figure of the morning cloud, and early dew, is uncommonly striking, to point out the transient state of anything that can be called good in man. In an hot summer season, if the morning cloud appears, there is an hope of showers; but soon as the day comes on the cloud vanisheth. And the dew which promiseth to refresh, is soon dried up by the sun. Such is the specious nature of all promised goodness in man!
Probably the hewing by the words of the Prophets, hath a reference to the powerful effects of preaching. We have a striking instance: Acts 7:51-54 . And the Lord compares his word to a fire, and to an hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces. Jeremiah 23:29 . See also Hebrews 4:12 .
Our blessed Jesus hath made this scripture memorable by twice quoting it. Matthew 9:13 and again, Matthew 12:7 . But it should seem, as if by our Lord's expression on both occasions, the sense of it was not then well understood; neither is it now. Some have ventured to suppose, that the sense of it is, that the Lord prefers the mercy and goodness of our hearts to the sacrifices of his own appointing. Whereas the sacrifices, all referring as they do to Christ, carry with them a full conviction, that we have neither mercy nor goodness in our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 . I confess that according to my views of the scripture, the mercy here desired by Jehovah is Christ himself; and the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God in Christ, as the substance of whole burnt-offerings. For Christ is the mercy promised; and Christ the one all-sufficient sacrifice with which alone God is well pleased. Luke 1:72 ; Ephesians 5:2 .
We find here the same melancholy account, as in the other parts of this prophecy; the Lord complaining of his people's apostacy; Gilead and the house of Israel; Ephraim and Judah; all alike transgressors. Alas! what but the blood of Christ can expiate the offences of the Lord's people!
READER! it is blessed amidst the general; yea, universal corruption of our poor fallen nature, to behold, even in a few instances here and there afforded, of the sovereignty of the Lord's grace. And when we hear the cry issuing from the heart, come, and let us return unto the Lord, we may well exclaim, what hath God wrought! For surely nothing less than an Almighty power could effect the change; and the Lord's grace alone accomplish it.
But it is to thee, O blessed Jesus, as the glorious and efficient cause, the great event in every instance must be ascribed. It is from thy goings forth as the morning, when thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, the auspicious mercy is to be traced. Lord! help me to contemplate thee, under this endeared character! Be it my mercy, night and morning, to behold thee in this lovely, this gracious point of view. By the leadings of thine Holy Spirit, guiding my soul through the sacred pages of thy word, I see thee coming forth as the morning, yea, as a morning without clouds, in the council of peace between the persons of the Godhead, when thou stoodest up, at the call of Jehovah, as the glorious Head, and Surety, of thy people. I see thee also coming in with the very first dawn of revelation, as the seed of the Woman to bruise the Serpent's head. I trace the wonderful subject, all pointing to thee, in every sacrifice, type, and shadow, of the law, during the whole Jewish dispensation; until at length, in the fulness of time, thou camest forth as the morning, in the open manifestation of thyself; in substance of our flesh! Hail! thou glorious, gracious, great Deliverer, of a lost world! And dost thou not now, even now, come forth as the morning, when to the heart of every individual believer, after the long night of the sin, and darkness, and ignorance, of a fallen state, thou manifestest thyself to them in a way of conversion, otherwise than thou dost to the world? Dost thou not, blessed Jesus, make every renewed love token of thy visits, like the morning when coming a-fresh, to revive, to comfort, to help, to maintain, and strengthen thy redeemed, in the dark state of their present pilgrimage? Oh! precious, precious Jesus! continue and increase those sweet visits, morning by morning, and be thou as the rain, both the latter and the former rain, upon the earth. Yea, Lord! come upon my dry and barren heart as showers of blessings! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hosea 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent